Punitive Bond in Alabama

by ParkmanLaw on August 28, 2013

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Criminal defendants who are arrested in Alabama generally have the right to post a bond to be released from jail while their criminal case is pending.

Alabama criminal attorneys in Birmingham and elsewhere know that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “Excessive bail shall not be required. . .”

Also, Rule 7 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure states that, while awaiting trial, criminal defendants, may be released on terms that are the least onerous to ensure the defendant appears for trial.  The only exception to this is if the Court determines that the defendant is charged with a capital offense, the defendant is unlikely to show up for court, or the defendant’s release poses a danger to the public.

Rule 7 actually states that criminal defendants may be released on their own personal recognizance.  However, this is unusual, and the trend seems that bonds are often set at an amount higher than suggested by Alabama law in an effort to keep the defendant incarcerated before trial.    Bonds on arrest warrants are usually requested by the arresting officer.  Bonds on indictments are usually requested by the District Attorney.   In other words, until after they are arrested, the defendant and his criminal attorney have no opportunity to argue as to why the bond should be lower.   These member of law enforcement are often overly aggressive in requesting high bonds, because they don’t want to be viewed as being soft on crime.

It often appears that law enforcement ignores the clear parameters set by the Alabama legislature.  Alabama criminal law has a suggested bond range for criminal defendants.  Murder has a suggested bond range of between $15,000 and $75,000.  However, our murder attorneys have never seen an initial Murder bond set at $75,000 or below.  In fact, they are typically set at $150,000 or more. Similarly, Class A Felonies, such as drug trafficking, Robbery 1st, Rape I and Burglary 1st have a suggested bond range of between $10,000 and $60,000, yet bonds are routinely set in excess of $100,000 for these offenses.

What do you do if your bond is set too high in Alabama? 

Alabama law provides that an incarcerated criminal defendant can petition the court to reduce their bond, if they believe bond has been at an unreasonably high amount.

Our Birmingham criminal attorneys are experienced in filing a Motion for Bond Reduction and requesting the Court to lower the bond to an amount that is fair.  Common arguments made to support a request to reduce bond are that similarly situated defendants have lower bonds, the defendant has strong ties to the community, the defendant does not have an extensive criminal history, the defendant has strong family support, the defendant owns real property in the jurisdiction and more.

If you have a friend or family member who is in jail awaiting trial, call our Birmingham criminal attorneys at Parkman & White, LLC to see if they have a good argument for pre-trial release.  After all, it makes our job easier representing a client if they are free to meet with us to prepare for trial, rather than having to meet at the jail.

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